Colombia’s main contribution to the art world has undoubtedly been the paintings and sculptures of Medellín born Fernando Botero. Botero is a popular figure in modern art and, owing to his distinct style, he boasts critical acclaim worldwide as well as recognition and appreciation from those with little interest in art.
Fernando Botero was born in 1932 to a salesman and a seamstress. He suffered tragedy at an early age as his father died when he was just 4 years old, leading to his uncle becoming a major figure in his upbringing. When Botero was 16 he was published in Colombia’s daily paper, El Colombiano. This paved the way for further success and, in the same year, Botero’s work was first exhibited in a local art show.
Following this minor success, Botero moved to Bogotá, followed by Barcelona before eventually moving to Madrid. From here began a period of intense study for the Colombian artist, reading at the Academia de San Fernando before moving to Paris and spending a great deal of time studying the works in the Louvre. The following year (1954) he moved to Florence and absorbed the work of the Renaissance masters.
Despite knowledge of where and what Botero studied, his style is emphatically idiosyncratic. Undoubtedly Botero can be considered an abstract artist owing to his painting’s intuitive style and, yet, they boast a rich attention to natural details, even as they distort the proportions of their primary figures.
Botero and his considerable success have had a palpable impact on Colombian life. Not only does his fame draw visitors to Colombia in the hopes of getting closer to understanding Botero, Colombia itself also responds. The most famous example of this is Botero Plaza in Medellín, where statues sculpted in Botero’s inimitable style are dotted around the square, numbering 23 in total. On the square also stands the Museo de Antioquia, which houses many more of Botero’s works. In Bogotá the Museo de Botero boasts 123 artworks using different techniques, all donated by the artist himself.
Beyond this, the very essence of Botero’s paintings is everywhere in Colombia: distinct, vibrant and larger than life.
You can visit the Museo de Antioquia and Museo de Botero on a Cultural Tour of Colombia, with See Colombia Travel
For more check out our 80 facts about Botero we compiled for the great man’s birthday.